1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Still More Galley Pantry Panels

I’m still working on the galley pantry cabinets. I also finally found a fitting that works to attach the pump-out deck fitting to the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe I use for the plumbing.

2″ pump-out deck fitting

Fernco 1-1/2″ pipe coupler just fits

I use PVC pipe for blackwater plumbing

Back to the cabinets, the next step starts with 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleats

Next I fit the bottom panel

These cabinets are a bigger challenge than I wish they were. You may recall that I initially intended to install the upright panels perpendicular to the step from the salon to the galley. But to make the cabinets work with the original joinery that remains, I had to install the upright cabinet panels such that the bottom panels and top panels inside the cabinets aren’t simple 90° angles at the cabinet face; they’re parallelograms! It takes much longer cutting and fitting these parallelogram panels than it would with 90° angles.

Next the back panel gets cut

Lookin’ good!

The upper panel cleats went in next

You’d think these 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleats would be a breeze to cut and fit. But my table saw is under the bow of the boat at the front of the tent, as is my Shopsmith and its bandsaw, jointer, and other attachments. So if it’s not a simple cut (I keep my double miter chop saw up in the salon), to make each cut I have to go up the steps to the aft deck, across and down the ladder, then out of the tent at the stern, walk forward, re-enter the tent at the front, cut the piece, and schlep it back up to the salon. It only adds a couple of minutes for each cut, but when I’m doing multiple cuts and jointed edges just to get a few cleats installed, at the end of the day it’s consumed a lot of time.

Followed by the top panel

The top-to-back panel joint isn’t tight; the camera is too kind

There’s a good, solid 1/16″ gap in this joint, where the mahogany should touch. The back panel is angled to follow the curve of the hull from bottom to top, and the top panel angles up, which opens up the joint. So the top panel back edge needs to be trimmed at an angle to tighten up that joint.

Mark the edge with a Sharpie, and run it over the Shopsmith jointer a few times with the fence set to 7°

With each pass, more and more of the Sharpie mark disappears. When it’s all gone, the edge is jointed to 7°.

7° on the nose

Now THAT’s a tight joint!

Galley cabinet #2…done

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Last Galley Pantry Panels


1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More on the Galley Pantry

It’s been below freezing for the better part of two weeks, with overnight lows dropping as low as 3°F, so I haven’t been too enthused about going to the boat, and I’ve been slacking on my blogging, too. But I have been enjoying decking out the shooting range I’ve got in the back 40 at the house. Turns out old circular saw blades make great targets! But with daytime highs well below freezing and a brutal wind chill, I can only empty a few mags (Maryland has an idiotic 10-round mag limit) before I have to head back inside where it’s warm.

Anyway, before the brutal cold came to visit, I did get more of the galley pantry cabinetry done.

Where I left off

First, I installed 1″x 1″ mahogany cleats for the back panel

Those cleats were the ones I recycled from the original mahogany toe rail.

Then I installed cleats for the bottom panel

And my ShopSmith bandsaw helped me make the upper cleats

Looks good

Bottom panel fitted

Back panel fitted

I need to secure the top of the panel to the deck frame

That works

Next, I had to make a box for the pump-out hose fitting

That’ll do

I think this will work

A very old scrap of mahogany I’ve been saving is just the right size

There’s always that question of whether to keep or throw out mahogany plywood and solid stock scraps. I generally lean toward saving scraps, and it turns out this one was worth keeping.

EurekaZone track saw helps clean up a nasty edge

I use my carbide-tipped saws to clean up edges rather than the jointer. The HSS jointer blades on my ShopSmith dull quickly when cleaning painted or varnished edges. That will be less of an issue once I get my new-to-me MiniMax FS35 jointer properly tuned up. It’s been too cold! When overnight temps drop to single digits Fahrenheit, 800lbs blocks of iron hold the cold for a long time!


ShopSmith bandsaw lops off a slab of mahogany

This is yet another little chunk of scrap I’ve been hording that came in handy. It was a leftover from the new salon hatch frames.

Shopsmith jointer was just the right size to clean up the face from the bandsaw cut

Not bad for scrap!

Screwing it together

Bosch router rounds off the edges

It was tough holding it in place while I ran the router over the edges. I could definitely see the benefit of having a stationary router table.

Sanded and ready to temporarily mount

Not bad for a “scrap box”

That’s a wrap for the first pantry interior panels.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Still More Galley Pantry Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: A New Tool–MiniMax FS35 Jointer/Planer!

The more cabinetry I do, the more I’m realizing the limitations of my Shopsmith combination woodworking machine. While the Shopsmith bandsaw, 12″ disk sander, and horizontal boring and shaping functions are excellent, the jointer–at only 4″ wide, with a 28″ table–is simply too small for the job. I’ve been scanning craigslist for months and missed a couple of good machines, but then a MiniMax FS35–a beast of a combination 14″ jointer and thickness planer–showed up in Baltimore during the week before Christmas. The seller wasn’t especially good at communication, and it seemed as if it had sold…then it was still available, but only for the full asking price…then there was flexibility in the price. By Saturday morning, the eve of Christmas Eve, I’d already made the trip from the house to the boatyard when the seller sent me his address. The heater on the boat had just started warming up the salon when I shut it all down and hit the road for Baltimore. I ended up buying the MiniMax, loading it into my truck, and taking it down to my house in Southern Maryland. For the second time in two months, a whole weekend went by without anything getting done on the Roamer. But this machine will make it that much easier to do cabinet face frames in the near future.

800lbs of fun

Because it was unclear if the machine was still for sale, I’d left the house for the boatyard without bring straps or a cover. Fortunately, I’ve always got 1/2″ and 3/4″ line in the back of the truck. The seller had a loading dock, which is ~50″ high–14″ higher than my unloaded truck bed– so we “went Egyptian” and used scraps of lumber and plywood to make a ramp to slide the machine into the truck. The loading operation went surprisingly smoothly.

Taking heavy bits off the top

I used my engine hoist to lift the planer beds off the machine, one by one.

Both jointer beds off

That 14″ cutterhead is the biggest I’ve ever seen. With the jointer table in place, you can true up to 13-3/4″ wide solid stock from the top side (Model FS35 = 35cm =13.75″). The thickness planer bed is below the cutter head, and it can handle lumber up to 9-1/2″ thick. This is a beast of a machine.

The paint’s not in bad shape for an old machine

Planer feed roller drive wheel has a dent where it was left engaged

Fortunately, the dent in the rubber drive wheel doesn’t seem to affect the feed roller function.

Time for the big lift out of the truck bed

My Harbor Freight engine hoist has been one of the greatest tools I’ve bought from them. Well worth the money.

After lifting the MiniMax out of the truck, I had to decide how to get it into the workshop. If I go through the garage, there’s a big step down into the workshop out back, which would mean more ramp building. Instead, I decided to load it onto a mini trailer and pull it around back with my Craftsman garden tractor. First gear at idle speed, and within a couple of minutes it was in the shop.

Reassembled in my workshop

10 seconds to convert from jointer to planer

Brand new carbide-tipped knives

So, now I’ve got a machine big enough to joint the boards I’ll be using for upcoming cabinetry. Because the MiniMax is down at my house, I’ll have to cut lengths of mahogany lumber slightly oversize for whatever I’m going to make, bring them from the tent to the house, joint and plane to thickness, then finish up machining the wood back on the boat. I predict there will be some frustration along the way, but not nearly as much as trying to use the little 4″ Shopsmith jointer with its tiny little bed and fence.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More on the Galley Pantry

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Roughing Out More of the Galley Pantry

Winter 2017 has arrived, and I’m still making headway on the galley pantry cabinets. It was winter 2007 when we first started working on this project. A lot has changed in ten years.

Back then, a massive government socioeconomic experiment in mortgage lending had (predictably) created a housing bubble, and everybody had more money than they knew what to do with. That drove up the price of boats to the point where even 40-year Chris Crafts in rough shape were going for a lot of money. When I heard about this Roamer and that “all it needs is engines and a paint job” AND that I could buy it for $1…sounded like a real bargain.

Since then the bubble burst, taking down the global economy and with it (eventually) the price of old boats. As usual, the people who started the grand experiment said everything went to hell because there weren’t enough people like them regulating things. It always seemed to me that the best way to avoid crashing the global economy when a massive socioeconomic experiment fails is to keep the government out of the socioeconomic experiment business.

That said, the first thing to tank was housing prices and, though it took a while, eventually boat owners had to acknowledge the new market reality. In 2006, I recall a late-60s Chris Craft Commander 60 sold for a half-million dollars. Fast forward to 2015, and a very nice, shed kept, running and driving 60′ Commander  sold for far less than we’ve put into this Roamer.  I had to stop visiting yacht sales websites…it was too depressing. We’d progressed so far and spent so much on this Roamer that we’d passed the point of turning back. With the new Cummins engines installed and the paint job done, all that was left was a bit of carpentry.

Just a bit…

Anyway, it’s ten years later and I’m still spending pretty much every weekend in the boatyard tent. On the up-side, I learned how to weld aluminum and stainless, and my woodworking skills are getting better all the time. Which brings me to the latest bit of the project: the galley pantry cabinets.

A heavy coat of epoxy seals up the 48-year old galley floor

The old marine plywood in the galley floor drank up a lot of epoxy, but now it’s sealed up and ready for another half-century. I’ll sand it and top coat it later.

The leading edge of the vertical cabinet panels all need to line up

I used a framing square and  6-foot straight edge to mark a line that all three pantry panels will have to come out to.

Uh…Houston…we have a problem

So, my plan was to have the pantry cabinets come out far enough that they line up with the original mahogany above. But the line I marked at 90° to the bulkhead would inset two of the three vertical pantry panels. The original mahogany panel conforms to the deck, and at this point the beam is getting narrower as it gets closer to the bow. So the cabinetry will have to follow the upper panel instead of being 90° to the bulkhead. Everything is complicated on a boat…

A Framing square and two straight edges show me how far off the cabinetry would have been

That’s the line. Time to cut panels.

The pantry panel I cut last week makes a good pattern for the second one

And another sheet of mahogany plywood came out of the stack. If I did my calculations right, when the stack of plywood is gone the interior should be finished. So every sheet that comes out of the stack reminds me I’m getting closer to being done.

The second pantry vertical panel needs a bit of trimming

I need to make sure there’s enough clearance for the pump-out plumbing

Yes, the holding tank pump-out plumbing will be in close proximity to the galley pantry…where food will be stored.

These boats didn’t have holding tanks or pump-out fittings when new. The deck fitting that was here when we got the boat was for potable water. But since I’ll be using the OEM chromed bronze water fills instead, and holding tanks are required now, I decided to use this hole in the deck for the pump-out fitting.  In retrospect, I should have welded up the hole and relocated it further outboard, but it’s too late now. I’ve got some ideas for the cabinetry that should conceal the pooh plumbing.

The top of the mahogany panel fits pretty well, and there’s plenty of room for plumbing

Need to take a bit off the bottom

Lookin’ good!

Nice and square to the floor

Two down, one to go

The last panel has the most notches where it meets the deck

Boom. Done.

I’ll use solid mahogany stock to make the face frame that will attach to these three vertical panels. Overall, I’m pleased with how this is coming along. I just wish I was faster. It took a long weekend to get just these two panels fitted…

Merry Christmas 2017!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: A New Tool–MiniMax FS35 Jointer/Planer!

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Roughing Out the Galley Pantry

I’ve got a serious case of the blahs. It’s not full-on project burn-out, but there have been a string of things that haven’t gone smoothly and it’s taking a toll on my level of enthusiasm. More on that sometime later.

That said, I’m still making progress. With the galley bulkhead nicely veneered in mahogany, I started framing out the galley pantry.

The pantry will be to the left of the V-berth door

Original mahogany framing had to be moved a bit

Some wiring and vent hoses will need some adjusting, too

The upright mahogany sticks are where the walls and back panels will attach

One more panel comes out of the plywood stack!

Not bad…needs a bit of trimming here and there

Getting closer

And there it is!

You wouldn’t think it should take a whole day to get two sticks and one silly little panel fitted, but that’s sort of the way things are going recently. I’ll knock out the other panels over the weekend, unless we get snowed in.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Roughing Out More of the Galley Pantry

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Last Galley Bulkhead Veneer

I hadn’t been to the tent in two weeks, first for Thanksgiving weekend and then to prepare for the local holiday boat parade. It was nice to take a break, but that also got me thinking about how much of my life I’ve spent on this thing. It’ll be nice when it’s all done, but if I had a ‘way back machine’ I would never have started this project. Then again, I’ve been doing this long enough to recognize when I’m in a slump because things aren’t progressing as well as I’d like. I’ll come out of it soon enough.

That said, we decided on “Merry Grinchmas” as the theme for the boat parade. I made a sign that said Merry Christmas/Grinchmas using 12v strip LEDs, with the “Grinch” and “Christ” parts switching back and forth. The Grinch letters were green, and there were ~200 soldered connections to make it all work. On the bow, the missus took on the role of Grinch, with friends playing Whos. There’s a yellow-LED framed sign up there that has three LED hearts–a little, shriveled one, then two sequentially bigger ones.  In retrospect, it would have been better to use plastic poultry fence for the backing on that sign. The white shrinkwrap plastic lights up from the floodlights we need for the actors, which makes the red hearts less visible. When the Whos’ song comes on, the Grinch hearts grow and everything lights up. I thought we captured the Grinch story in a repeating 1:07 skit, but–alas–the judges didn’t give us any prizes. Instead, they gave a prize to a boat with the theme “co-exist,” an inherently political theme based on the bumper sticker. What’s the world coming to?

Anyway, here’s the skit as performed in our slip back on the dock:

Now, back to the Roamer.

I got the last galley bulkhead veneer panel cut and installed.

I used a hot glue gun and sticks to make a pattern

Then transferred the pattern to the 1/8″ mahogany plywood panel

Trimming a bit from the leading edge of the original woodwork allows the plywood panel to slide in for a nice joint

Test fit looks good


The bulkhead is sanded and ready to be wetted out with epoxy

Not too bad for the panel-to-panel butt joint

Ready to roll on the epoxy

After wetting out the panel and bulkhead, I waited for the epoxy to get tacky

2″ tape tabs allow me to place the panel without touching the edges

I don’t want to get epoxy on the mahogany face of the panel.

Every stick serves a purpose

I use a squeegee to push air bubbles out and ensure 100% contact. But the edges of these panels sometimes lift off just a bit, so I use sticks, boards, clamps and plywood scraps to hold everything together while the epoxy cures overnight.

Next day: looks good!

Cover everything with cardboard and call it done

I seem to be working from the bow back toward the stern, and I’d like to put in as much cabinetry in the galley and salon as I can so long as it doesn’t impinge on my plywood panel cutting space. There’s a lot of cabinetry in the galley and salon that’s under the side decks, and it won’t get in the way if I install it. So I’ll start on that next. The new air conditioners also arrived, and I need to install the one in the V-berth so I can finish up the cabinetry there. I just wish it’d all go faster.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Roughing Out the Galley Pantry

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More Galley Bulkhead Veneers

With the V-berth mahogany panels all installed, I continued the theme by cutting and installing veneer panels on the galley bulkhead.

Middle galley bulkhead veneer panel is cut and ready to epoxy in place

Rolling on just enough epoxy to wet out the surface but not saturate or have standing pools is the key, I’ve found.

Bulkhead and veneer panel are wetted out

Give it an hour or so to start to get tacky

Custom panel handles made from 2″ tape

The panels are wetted out all the way to the edge, so if I touch the edges when installing I’ll end up getting epoxy on my gloves and spreading it all over the place. The little tape tabs allow me to position the panel without ever coming near the edges.

That went well

After hitting the panel with a squeegee several times over an hour or so, some of the edges still wanted to lift off the bulkhead just a bit. So I put some  sticks in place to press the edges into full contact.

Next day: galley bulkhead #2 is installed

I should probably note here that very little of these veneer panels will actually be visible once the cabinets and fridge are in place. When you open the cabinets you’ll see them, and they’ll be visible between the countertops and upper cabinets. But there won’t just be a big wall of plain wood.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Last Galley Bulkhead Veneer